Mary Magdalene is the woman caught in the act of adultery whom the Scribes and Pharisees presented to Jesus Christ for Him to enforce a law in the Old Testament.
John 8:3 " And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? "
This is the law the Scribes and Pharisees were referring to:
Leviticus 20:10 " And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. "
Did Jesus amend the Law on adultery?
Our Lord seemed to have amended the law on adultery for the punishment of the guilty parties.
John 8:6 " …Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
How could the act of our Lord be reconciled with what He said?
Matthew 5:17 " Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. "
Definitely, our Lord will always be true to His words that "He came not to destroy the law." With human understanding however, our Lord seemed not to have told the truth. But it is Satan who is telling a lie and the father of it (John 8:44 ). This goes to prove that, indeed, God and our Lord "is" speaking in parables (Ezekiel 20:49 , Mark 4:34 ) which no one can and should explain or interpret.
Physical and Spiritual Adultery distinguished
The Natural Man (1 Corinthians 2:14 ) 1 only thinks of physical adultery as the Scribes and Pharisees who saw Mary Magdalene violating that particular law. Physical adultery is limited to the moral aspect of the law. Only God can explain the spiritual aspect , and this He does through His words. In spiritual matters, God has this to say on physical gender:
Galatians 3:28 " There is… neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. "
God reveals the spiritual gender of a person in the following:
Isaiah 54:5 " For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel ; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. "
Jeremiah 3:14 " Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family…."
If God is the "spiritual husband" and the people are the "spiritual wife," the spiritual "other man" is the enemy of God, Satan. In physical adultery the wife accepts the seeds of another man. In spiritual adultery , the "spiritual wife" receives "seeds" other than those of God. The "seeds of God" is the truth in His words (Luke 8:11 ). Therefore, who among the people is not a spiritual adulteress in the eyes of God?
Romans 3:10 " …There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. "
No wonder our Lord called the religious leaders and their followers, who were supposed to have followed the Law to the "letter" "adulterous generation," because they did not have the complete truth in the word of God.
Matthew 12:39 " Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign… "
The accusers of Mary Magdalene therefore were as guilty as she was in the eyes of our Lord. While they were "clean on the outside" for being faithful to their spouses, they were however "unclean in the inside," for being "spiritual adulteresses." This is one basis for our Lord's sharp rebuke on them:
Matthew 23:25 " Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter… 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones…"
Physical "faithfulness to the spouse" therefore must be preceded by, and to be hand in hand with, spiritual "faithfulness to God" who is the spiritual husband. Faithfulness to God means rejection of whatever words other than the truth in His words. Words of God in the Holy Bible consists of two interpretations:
- Man's understanding and interpretation, and
- God's own interpretation through His words.
Example for the two interpretations is this subject on adultery as it applies to Mary Magdalene and Simon the Pharisee. Look, to follow man's interpretation the following law is violated by not enforcing it:
Leviticus 20:10 " And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. "
Jesus enforces the law on adultery
With God's interpretation of His words, the law on adultery is never amended or nullified but strictly enforced. The "other man" that committeth adultery is Satan. The "wife" is the person accepting the "seeds" of Satan. The "seeds of Satan" are the falsehoods in the word of God with man's interpretation, or any man-made doctrines. "Death penalty" for the guilty parties will be executed in the following:
Revelation 20:10 " And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone…"
Revelation 20:15 " And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. "
The spiritual nature of the law of God was revealed to Paul when he wrote:
Romans 7:14 " For we know that the law is spiritual… "
The Scribes and Pharisees, for not submitting themselves to our Lord as "little children," were denied spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, because of spiritual blindness, they did not even know that they were committing "spiritual adultery." How could they repent if they know they are clean?
Matthew 11:25 " At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. "
Repentance of a sinner
How easy for many people to quote the following verses to indicate repentance and salvation:
John 3:16 " For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. "
1 John 1:9 "I f we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. "
John 3:3 " Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. "
Mary Magdalene was a notorious sinner and our Lord cast out seven devils from her (Mark 16:9). Comparing our claim of salvation with what our Lord bestowed on her is worth noting in the light of what is written in the Sacred Scriptures. Here are the related accounts of what Magdalene did:
Luke 7:36 " And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. "
John 12:3 "… Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein."
Matthew 26:13 " Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached… there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. "
These are some points in the incident that need explanation from God through His words. It is clearly established that God and our Lord "is" speaking in parables (Ezekiel 20:49 , Mark 4:34 ) 2 .
- Simon the Pharisee saw himself less sinner than Mary Magdalene.
- Magdalene washed the feet of our Lord with her tears.
- Magdalene wiped the feet of our Lord with her hair.
- Magdalene hath not ceased to kiss the feet of our Lord.
- Magdalene poured costly ointment on our Lord filling the house with the odour.
- Wherever the gospel is preached, the story of Magdalene should always be told.
1. Simon the Pharisee less sinner than Magdalene?
Simon the Pharisee saw himself less sinner than Mary Magdalene when he said: " This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner." It is true from man's point of view that Magdalene was "more sinner" than Simon was. Magdalene, for humbling herself like a "little child," however, was given spiritual wisdom to know that she was "unclean in the inside as well as on the outside." Simon was "clean on the outside" by being faithful to his spouse. Because of spiritual blindness, Simon the Pharisee did not know that he was also guilty of "spiritual adultery." This is what our Lord meant when He said,
Luke 7:41 " There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged."
"Mercy and not sacrifice"
Spiritual humility is what our Lord is looking for in His chosen. God wants "mercy and not sacrifice." Trying to make oneself "clean" is "sacrifice." "Mercy from God" is the guidance and strength that makes a person "clean." God's mercy is the fruit of true repentance.
Hosea 6:6 "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool… 20But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword…"
Simon took pride in being "clean on the outside" as our Lord saw in the other Pharisees and Scribes ( http://www.purechristianity.org/cleanlin.htm ). This is the exact opposite of He saw in Magdalene. Thus, of all people, only the Scribes and Pharisees were called "serpents and generation of vipers."
Matthew 23:33 " Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"
If the cause of the downfall of Lucifer is pride and the sin of Eve is akin to pride ( http://www.purechristianity.org/sin ofeve.htm ), salvation and spiritual perfection is attained with spiritual humility.
2. Magdalene washed the feet of our Lord with tears
Magdalene shed tears of sadness for repentance . This should be distinguished from tears of remorse . Esau shed tears of remorse, not repentance.
Hebrew 2:16 "… Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears . "
Judas "repented" in betraying our Lord, but from his acts this was only remorse and not true repentance. Otherwise, he should have followed our Lord.
Matthew 27:3 "T hen Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. "
The tears of Magdalene were for true repentance, thus obtaining mercy.
Psalms 39:12 " Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee… "
She truly recognized Jesus as Peter did. Thus, clearly recognizing the Father also.
Matthew 16:15 " He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. "
By recognizing Jesus by divine revelation, Magdalene clearly identified the Father also that God was no longer a mystery to her. She therefore satisfied the prerequisite to "loving God" (Mark 12:29 -32). 3 The rebuke of our Lord to the religious leaders no longer applied to her. For details, read JESUS OF THE ORIGINAL APOSTLES ( http://www.purechrist ianit y.org/jesusof.htm ).
John 8:19 " … Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. "
And recognizing the power of our Lord to forgive sins, her tears served another purpose of expressing her joy by being accepted in the "household of God" (Ephesians 2:19 ). 4
Psalms 126:5 " They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. "
3. Magdalene wiped the feet of our Lord with her hair
Magdalene could not have wiped the feet of our Lord if she did not have long hair. Wiping the feet is not just a simple gesture for people to see her repentance. This has a spiritual significance that, perhaps, many people do not see.
1 Corinthians 11:14 " Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. "
It would appear that God intended a woman to have long hair, to distinguish her from a man. This is amplified in the following:
1 Corinthians 11:6 " …but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 11Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. "
Literally, this gives rise to male chauvinism. God's words however are in parable. God identified the "man" and the "woman" earlier. The "woman" is the person, both female and male, while the "man" is God Himself.
From the viewpoint of our Lord therefore, Magdalene with her long hair typifies a perfect "spiritual woman." If God is the "spiritual man," then Magdalene represents the bride Church (Ephesians 5:23 ). 5 In the narrower sense, the Church refers to the individual believer (1 Corinthians 3:16 ). 6 God who is Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9) 7 is the bridegroom and the true believers are the bride (Revelation 21:9). 8
4. Magdalene hath not ceased to kiss the feet of our Lord
The act of Magdalene did not seem to conform to generally accepted social norm. This further affirms that the words of God are in parables. The act has spiritual significance.
(a) Her act showed total prostration and obeisance for she could not have kissed the feet of our Lord without totally bowing down. This act of spiritual humility brought forth God's mercy.
(b) Unceasingly kissing the feet of our Lord indicates continuous relationship. This is the equivalent of "praying without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). 9 Contrary to the general belief, prayer and worship is not just an expression from the lips or feat of an emotion. Rather, these should only be the manifestation of real spiritual worship (John 4:24). The act of Magdalene depicted her life, her continuous "walk in the Spirit."
Galatians 5:21 " If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. "
5. Magdalene poured costly ointment on our Lord filling the house with odour
Literally, this must be an exquisitely expensive kind of perfume that elicited the following comments:
Mark 14:3 " … having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. 4And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? "
Spiritually, "ointment and perfume" is precious to the "heart."
Proverbs 27:9 " Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart…"
The "heart" refers to the inner being of a person. What is more precious to the "heart" than human rationality -- emotion and human intelligence. In spiritual matters, this is to be set aside. Otherwise, our Lord should not have enjoined His listeners to "be converted into little children." The word of God is replete with condemnation of human wisdom (1 Corinthians. 3:18 -20, 1:19 -21). 10 This is what Magdalene "poured" and offered to our Lord. This is a very precious possession.
This is the kind of "possession" that our Lord told the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18:18 -25) 11 to sell and give the proceeds to the poor. Human rationality is what makes one to reject the Truth. Literally, it was perfume for Magdalene. Literally, it was land, houses, cattle, and sheep to the Rich Young Ruler. Distinction should be made between "literal and spiritual poor" and "literal and spiritual rich." Our Lord gave us the clue in:
Matthew 5:3 " Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "
In essence therefore, spiritual "little children" is synonymous with "poor in spirit." "Rich in spirit" is spiritual pride and this is the cause of the downfall of Lucifer and the fall of Eve. Read the article THE SIN OF ADAM AND EVE (http://www.purechristianity.org/sinofeve.htm). To the Natural Man, the comment of Judas Iscariot in pouring the precious ointment means hypocrisy. Spiritually, it means more than that.
John 12:3 " Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? "
The words of God are in parables to separate the "elect" from the "outsiders."
Mark 4:11 " And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of thekingdom of God : but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand…"
6. Whenever the gospel is preached, the story of Magdalene should be told
Compare what the "outsiders" get from the incident with God's explanation of His words. To the former, the incident is just a simple story. But God's explanation has a far-reaching message that actually portrays the life of Mary Magdalene. While Martha was busy doing physical things to please our Lord, Mary was following Him (Luke 10:40 -42). 12 While the apostles were afraid or indifferent to keep watch of our Lord till His resurrection, Magdalene was anxious to be with Him always (John 20:1). 13
No one among Christ's apostles and disciples, including Blessed Virgin Mary, is this single honor of showing Himself first at His resurrection but to Mary Magdalene.
Mark 16:9 " Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils."
No wonder our Lord said that the life of Mary Magdalene should be retold whenever and wherever the gospel is preached.
Matthew 26:13 " Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached…, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her."
From God's explanation, Mary Magdalene truly typifies an ideal believer. This further confirms that the words of God are in parables and only He can explain them.
Mark 4:34 " 4 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. "
1 1 Corinthians 2:14 " But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. "
2 Ezekiel 20:49 " Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables? "
Mark 4:34 " But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples. "
3 Mark 12:29-32 " And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he. "
4 Ephesians 2:19 " Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God. "
5 Ephesians 5:23 " For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. "
6 1 Corinthians 3:16 " Know ye not that ye are the temple of God , and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? "
7 Colossians 2:9 " For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. "
8 Revelation 21:9 "… Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. "
9 1 Thessalonians 5:17 " Pray without ceasing. "
10 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 " Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. "
1 Corinthians 1:19-21 " For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God…"
11 Luke 18:18-25 " And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 19And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. 20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. 22Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. 24And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God ! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God . "
12 Luke 10:40-42 " But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. "
13 John 20:1 " The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. "